The United Nations Compound in Beijing marked the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) with the release of Being LGBTI in China — A National Survey on Social Attitudes towards Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (SOGIE), a report based on a survey of nearly 30,000 respondents from all provinces in the People’s Republic of China reflecting the life experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
Jointly implemented by the United Nations Development Programme, Peking University Sociology Department and the Beijing LGBT Center, with support from dozens of national and local community, business and media organizations, the survey aims to provide baseline information for both community and institutional organizations, and to promote the adoption of anti-discrimination and protective laws and policies for China’s sexual and gender minorities.
“LGBTI people represent some of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in Asia and the Pacific, including China,” said Agi Veres, Country Director of UNDP China. “Attention to their needs is therefore essential if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, a key feature of which is the underlying principle and commitment to ‘leave no one behind’.”
The report explores the legal environment, education, employment, family, faith and access to health services, mental health, media, social services and other areas, in regards to LGBTI people in China. It also examines social attitudes towards LGBTI people, including discrimination and unfair treatment.
The report finds that many LGBTI people in China still live in the shadows, with only 5% of them willing to live their diversity openly. It shows that the majority of LGBTI people continue to face discrimination in many aspects of their lives, most importantly within the family, where the deepest forms of rejection and abuse reside, followed by schools and the workplace.
The survey showed that access to health and social services remains difficult when one’s sexual orientation or gender diversity is known to, or even just suspected by, service providers. This stigma is doubly reinforced for those sexual and gender minority people who are living with HIV, who continue to face hurdles in accessing prevention and treatment services as well as stigma-free psychosocial support and counseling.
Most importantly, however, the survey paints a country in transition, where the majority of people do not hold negative nor stereotypical views of LGBTI people, with young people being more open towards and accepting of sexual and gender diversity.
The report suggests that this represents an important opportunity for LGBTI people and depicts a society that could achieve rapid and profound change, if guided in the right direction by civil society, policymakers, academia, the media as well as LGBTI people themselves. The report recommends that this is why education and evidence-based information, including more realistic portrayals of sexual diversity in the media, have a pivotal role to play going forward.
The report was supported by ‘Being LGBTI in Asia’ – a regional programme aimed at addressing inequality, violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, and promotes universal access to health and social services.
The report launch was attended by representatives from government, United Nations agencies, foreign missions in China, academic experts and scholars, community organizations, media organizations and other development partners.